What is HPAC? It stands for Health Professions Affinity Compact. In the words of the students that are involved, it is much more than just a group to join. HPAC is an extracurricular club that gets students involved with the community and works to address a local health issue. The students described it as similar to Key Club, a junior version of the Kiwanis, or the Leo Club, a junior version of the Lions. Their main focus is a health problem, though. The students that participate present solutions and promote awareness of the health issue that they choose to address. This year’s juniors chose to focus on stress.

After their year of working together to research stress and organize stress-reducing events, the HPAC went to Scholar’s Day. Scholar’s Day took place the same weekend as prom for these students, but they got up early on Sunday, boarded the bus and went to NEOMED (Northeast Ohio Medical University) for the event. The event included poster and oral presentations from schools across the region, and all provided brief summaries of the health issues that were addressed.  Marietta High School’s HPAC won first place for their poster presentation. Their teacher adviser, Mrs. Kim Depue, was named the HPAC Advisor of the Year.

The Scholar’s Day events were followed by an extensive visit to Hiram College.  Students participated in a bonfire before spending the night in the dorms. The next day, they observed classes, toured the campus and attended lectures. There were even opportunities to talk with financial aid representatives and other collegiate resources.

Student Perspectives:

“HPAC broke me out of my shell. I didn’t talk with anyone last year except two people. I now talk with a lot of people and I can give presentations. The Pet Your Stress Away day was a good way for me to show what skills I do have; I am organized, I can talk with people and I can set goals to get something done.” — Jenna Stewart, Junior

“It really brought me close to the people that were in the group. I was new last year and I really didn’t have a hold in the school yet. It is a great club that can make an impact on the students and the community around us. The trip to NEOMED helped me in my quest to find out what I really want to do, and what my lifetime goals are now.” — Will Bickham, Junior

“From joining HPAC and attending Scholar’s Day we had to fill out packets, so we get a lot of emails from health related career fields that are offering internships and provide insight into specific fields like pharmacy. It makes it a lot easier to choose what college to attend, because they give you so much help with it. I don’t think I will go into the health field, but if I did I would have the resources I need. We were able to give advice to other schools that were trying to start an HPAC group. We told them they need a really good adviser.” — Calaya Rake, Junior

Teachers from schools in the area who are interested in starting HPAC in their schools can attend a training session this summer with their prospective students. For information about the HPAC Summer Camp and registration, please visit: http://buildingbridgestocareers.org/events/

Submitted by Tasha Werry